“We have put them on ice” – the climate crisis, child poverty, mental wellbeing & lifting Maori/Pacific incomes


If the first casualty of war is truth, then the first policy casualty of an economic crisis is support for the most helplessly exposed of our citizens.

Last Thursday Minister of Finance Grant Robertson gave a speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce in which he said:

Just as will have been the case for countless businesses, important work has had to be slowed or postponed, and resources have had to be reprioritised in light of the fight against COVID-19.

The Budget is no exception. The new spending packages planned on our five priorities that were announced in the Budget Policy Statement have been re-assessed. Unless they are meeting a core cost pressure, we have put them on ice.

So what are the five priorities which are the first policy casualties of the economic crisis?

The government’s budget policy statement for the 2020 budget lists them as:

  • Creating opportunities for productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy
  • Supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities
  • Lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities
  • Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, including addressing family violence
  • Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 24-year-olds.

The signs are dire for the large section of New Zealanders who want to see new priorities emerge in economic and social policy as we come out of the pandemic.

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The irony in Robertson putting “on ice” what was to be the first well-being” budget tells us all we need to know about the neo-liberal priorities of the coalition government.

Once again the most helplessly exposed of our citizens – those locked in generational deprivation in a land of plenty – have been sent to the back of the queue.

“We are a little people” said the late New Zealand writer Dean Parker referring to New Zealanders supposed belief in giving everyone a fair go.

Perhaps in this context we should say “we have little politicians”.


  1. 30 million is less that a drop in the bucket of those who need to be made whole again after 36 years of Austerity for the poor and prosperity for the rich- paid for by the poor tax payer’s…
    Excellent link SNZ! The time for change is now, for the Times they are a Changin.. Thanks! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90WD_ats6eE

    • So many people want that message to be heard, aka big business is too big and lobbyists have taken over the earth – also control the message through monopoly paid for content media that is not locally owned….. just saw another corporate merger attempt – our media is shit as it is!!! https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12330932

      “Four companies, all overseas owned, dominate the New Zealand news media. There is a near duopoly in two of the three main media – print and radio – a monopoly in pay television, and only three significant competitors in free-to-air television including the State-owned channels. Each daily newspaper has a near monopoly in its main circulation areas.” http://www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/15/05.htm

  2. Yeah well we do have ”have little politicians”.

    We’ve always known that , – and they’ve shrunk in size since 1984. We’ve always known that , so wheres the big deal? What I’d like to know is what is being done about the shawn off little bastards?

    • WK
      Did you mean; “…sawn off little bastards”? (my autocorrect tried to change that to “dawn”, so understandable typo if so), or was that a zombie/ Shawn of the dead reference?

      Anyway I think that our politicians seem shrunken, because we see all of them in everyday detail. Whereas we only recall the great, or notorious, ones of the past. For example, I like to think that I have some passing knowledge of NZ political history, but I couldn’t tell you; a single Dunedin MP between John A Lee and Pete Hodgeson. And I’d be worse for places where I don’t live.

      Or take other nostalgia; some people claim that the 1980s were the last great period of “real music” (to my mind as big a bunch of snobs as those who say the same of the 1880s). But anyone who lived through that time knows that there was a lot of dreck that never ends up on compilation albums (or Spotify playlists)!

      • John A Lee, born into a dysfunctional circumstance, delinquent as a young person , WWI soldier who had his arm amputated, a radical thinker for social justice and socialism,
        John was a highly motivated mover in the Early Labour party, an orator widely appreciated by the public at the time. a prolific writer for the Labour party and his own pamphlets and publications.
        He was so effective that he scared the shit out of Savage who refused to give him a cabinet position in spite of John’s record majority. Lee instigated many reforms and managed the setting up of State Housing.
        John A Lee was a hero but now much denigrated by those who write the official history it seems.
        When Savage ceased to act on what he promised, Lee opposed that situation as the work of Labour in transforming the structure of the govt and financial system had a long way to go. Because of John’s outspoken publications about Labour’s leadership he was sacked from the Labour party much to the regret of many influential Labour members in retrospect including Dr McMillan.. Savage had become a very respected PM with many homes having a large poster of Savage
        John’s publication “Debit Finance for War and Peace versus Democracy ” was a publication of his of a rousing speech he made as an MP which enthused Labour members but not all. Savage and Frazer had come under the influence of the Bank of England and sat on their hands,
        The booklet was widely distributed and still stands today in referring as to what is wrong with the monetary system installed in NZ by British banks.
        I have a copy. In my youth there were copies in many households but it is now a rare document printed on cheap paper and simply stapled together.

  3. You won’t get change by voting the coalition back in because they are “less bad than the other mob” this is the thing the tribal left can’t get their heads around, so the neoliberals in Labour/green treat them with contempt and take their vote for granted because they can.

    This is literally the equivalent of not disciplining your child who is lighting fires because at least he’s not as bad as the neighbours kid.
    You must vote out a government that lies, or you are guaranteed more of the same. Vote them out force a rebuild.

    Discipline the child or reap the consequences.

    • But National were voted out. 9 years of lies created destruction. Now is not a time you expect National to rebuild when they were the arty responsible for the problem.

      Unfortunately we reapt what you sewed.

      • You’d be wrong in your assumptions about people as usual Bert.

        I voted Labour to chuck out the last lot.
        Turns out this lot are terrible, want to rule rather than govern and lied about what they stood for, time to shuffle the deck again.

        • To be honest, I cant be bothered voting for any of them, they’re all bloody useless. Every election is just a shuffle of seats and the same tired faces neglect of any real ideas of how to fix the economy, so they just tinker around the edges and wonder why everything stays broken.
          I got suckered into voting Labour Green for the cannabis vote and boy did we get shafted.
          As a disabled person, I havent really benefited from any govt policy during my whole time being able to vote, they can all go get stuffed.

      • Don’t want that firm of Bridges, Seymour, Hooten,Slater & Collins back again selling my assets, selling Kiwibank and people living in cars.
        Give me Adern, Robertson,Peters and Shaw anytime.You know what you’re getting. A good honest coalition of age, experience and youth.

  4. The kind of change that John Minto thinks we need is probably not possible in an M.M.P. environment for the simple reason, M.M.P. discourages the systemic changes that he promotes by enabling coalition governments. In a coalition environment compromise is necessary in order to have a government.

    It is not to say I disagree with him on the need for change. Neoliberalism can go screw itself. 30 years of propping up the 1%; 30 years of gutting businesses and infrastructure that make the country function, have for obvious reasons not been kind.

  5. Roger Douglas will be so proud of Robo and Cinders for picking up where he left off a few decades ago.
    Douglas’s article in the NZH last week read like he was subtly giving praise for Robo’s handling of the situation ahead of him and how Cinders has kept a steady hand on the tiller and keeping the crew in line and passengers well feed and warm. The only thing he didnt mention was the out crop of rocks ahead.

    Dumping on Maori,PI and the poor, vulnerable and homeless by abandoning them all again which Labour are well known for and well practiced at.
    The 7 Maori MP’s need to walk! Show some spine and use their nouse and seats as leverage to get a better deal for Maori. Will they do that, Im guessing not because the trough is well and truly over flowing for them especially 4 of the 7 are ministers and associate ministers!
    Theyre not likely to catch C19 or a cold/flu this winter ay?

  6. I think I see the problem here. Massive increase in funding for the health service. However mental health to go on ice. Clearly it is not part of the health service. Doubly bad because it is usually seen as discretionary and a good place to cut if money is short. All of the areas now on ice kill far more NZers each year than Covid. So much for transformation or not letting a crisis go to waste. The right would not have hesitated.

  7. ” we have put them on ice ”

    Sounds like the ” delivering a brighter future ” in 2008.

    Or that bullshit Key phrase ” step change ”

    The more things change the more they stay the same !!!!!

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